Home > Store

C++ Templates: The Complete Guide

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

C++ Templates: The Complete Guide


  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
Not for Sale

eBook (Watermarked)

  • Your Price: $51.19
  • List Price: $63.99
  • About Watermarked eBooks
  • This PDF will be accessible from your Account page after purchase and requires the free Adobe® Reader® software to read it.

    The eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.

    Watermarked eBook FAQ


  • Copyright 2003
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 560
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-73484-2
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-73484-3
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-672-33412-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-672-33412-2

Templates are among the most powerful features of C++, but they are too often neglected, misunderstood, and misused. C++ Templates: The Complete Guide provides software architects and engineers with a clear understanding of why, when, and how to use templates to build and maintain cleaner, faster, and smarter software more efficiently.

C++ Templates begins with an insightful tutorial on basic concepts and language features. The remainder of the book serves as a comprehensive reference, focusing first on language details, then on a wide range of coding techniques, and finally on advanced applications for templates. Examples used throughout the book illustrate abstract concepts and demonstrate best practices.

Readers learn

  • The exact behaviors of templates
  • How to avoid the pitfalls associated with templates
  • Idioms and techniques, from the basic to the previously undocumented
  • How to reuse source code without threatening performance or safety
  • How to increase the efficiency of C++ programs
  • How to produce more flexible and maintainable software

This practical guide shows programmers how to exploit the full power of the template features in C++.

The companion Web site at http://www.josuttis.com/tmplbook/ contains sample code and additional updates.


Sample Content

Online Sample Chapters

C++ Templates: Metaprograms

Templates and Inheritance Interacting in C++

Downloadable Sample Chapter

Click below for Sample Chapter(s) related to this title:
Sample Chapter 17

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes Chapter 16 and Index)

Table of Contents



1. About This Book.

What You Should Know Before Reading This Book.

Overall Structure of the Book.

How to Read This Book.

Some Remarks About Programming Style.

The Standard versus Reality.

Example Code and Additional Information.



2. Function Templates.

A First Look at Function Templates.

Defining the Template.

Using the Template.

Argument Deduction.

Template Parameters.

Overloading Function Templates.


3. Class Templates.

Implementation of Class Template Stack.

Declaration of Class Templates.

Implementation of Member Functions.

Use of Class Template Stack.

Specializations of Class Templates.

Partial Specialization.

Default Template Arguments.


4. Nontype Template Parameters.

Nontype Class Template Parameters.

Nontype Function Template Parameters.

Restrictions for Nontype Template Parameters.


5. Tricky Basics.

Keyword typename.

Using this->.

Member Templates.

Template Template Parameters.

Zero Initialization.

Using String Literals as Arguments for Function Templates.


6. Using Templates in Practice.

The Inclusion Model.

Linker Errors.

Templates in Header Files.

Explicit Instantiation.

Example of Explicit Instantiation.

Combining the Inclusion Model and Explicit Instantiation.

The Separation Model.

The Keyword export.

Limitations of the Separation Model.

Preparing for the Separation Model.

Templates and inline.

Precompiled Headers.

Debugging Templates.

Decoding the Error Novel.

Shallow Instantiation.

Long Symbols.






7. Basic Template Terminology.

“Class Template” or “Template Class”?

Instantiation and Specialization.

Declarations versus Definitions.

The One-Definition Rule.

Template Arguments versus Template Parameters.


8. Fundamentals in Depth.

Parameterized Declarations.

Virtual Member Functions.

Linkage of Templates.

Primary Templates.

Template Parameters.

Type Parameters.

Nontype Parameters.

Template Template Parameters.

Default Template Arguments.

Template Arguments.

Function Template Arguments.

Type Arguments.

Nontype Arguments.

Template Template Arguments.



Friend Functions.

Friend Templates.


9. Names in Templates.

Name Taxonomy.

Looking Up Names.

Argument-Dependent Lookup.

Friend Name Injection.

Injected Class Names.

Parsing Templates.

Context Sensitivity in Nontemplates.

Dependent Names of Types.

Dependent Names of Templates.

Dependent Names in Using-Declarations.

ADL and Explicit Template Arguments.

Derivation and Class Templates.

Nondependent Base Classes.

Dependent Base Classes.


10. Instantiation.

On-Demand Instantiation.

Lazy Instantiation.

The C++ Instantiation Model.

Two-Phase Lookup.

Points of Instantiation.

The Inclusion and Separation Models.

Looking Across Translation Units.


Implementation Schemes.

Greedy Instantiation.

Queried Instantiation.

Iterated Instantiation.

Explicit Instantiation.


11. Template Argument Deduction.

The Deduction Process.

Deduced Contexts.

Special Deduction Situations.

Allowable Argument Conversions.

Class Template Parameters.

Default Call Arguments.

The Barton-Nackman Trick.


12. Specialization and Overloading.

When “Generic Code” Doesn't Quite Cut It.

Transparent Customization.

Semantic Transparency.

Overloading Function Templates.


Partial Ordering of Overloaded Function Templates.

Formal Ordering Rules.

Templates and Nontemplates.

Explicit Specialization.

Full Class Template Specialization.

Full Function Template Specialization.

Full Member Specialization.

Partial Class Template Specialization.


13. Future Directions.

The Angle Bracket Hack.

Relaxed typename Rules.

Default Function Template Arguments.

String Literal and Floating-Point Template Arguments.

Relaxed Matching of Template Template Parameters.

Typedef Templates.

Partial Specialization of Function Templates.

The typeof Operator.

Named Template Arguments.

Static Properties.

Custom Instantiation Diagnostics ..

Overloaded Class Templates.

List Parameters.

Layout Control.

Initializer Deduction.

Function Expressions.



14. The Polymorphic Power of Templates.

Dynamic Polymorphism.

Static Polymorphism.

Dynamic versus Static Polymorphism.

New Forms of Design Patterns.

Generic Programming.


15. Traits and Policy Classes.

An Example: Accumulating a Sequence.

Fixed Traits.

Value Traits.

Parameterized Traits.

Policies and Policy Classes.

Traits and Policies: What's the Difference?

Member Templates versus Template Template Parameters.

Combining Multiple Policies and/or Traits.

Accumulation with General Iterators.

Type Functions.

Determining Element Types.

Determining Class Types.

References and Qualifiers.

Promotion Traits.

Policy Traits.

Read-only Parameter Types.

Copying, Swapping, and Moving.


16. Templates and Inheritance.

Named Template Arguments.

The Empty Base Class Optimization (EBCO).

Layout Principles.

Members as Base Classes.

The Curiously Recurring Template Pattern (CRTP).

Parameterized Virtuality.


17. Metaprograms.

A First Example of a Metaprogram.

Enumeration Values versus Static Constants.

A Second Example: Computing the Square Root.

Using Induction Variables.

Computational Completeness.

Recursive Instantiation versus Recursive Template Arguments.

Using Metaprograms to Unroll Loops.


18. Expression Templates.

Temporaries and Split Loops.

Encoding Expressions in Template Arguments.

Operands of the Expression Templates.

The Array Type.

The Operators.


Expression Templates Assignments.

Performance and Limitations of Expression Templates.



19. Type Classification.

Determining Fundamental Types.

Determining Compound Types.

Identifying Function Types.

Enumeration Classification with Overload Resolution.

Determining Class Types.

Putting It All Together.


20. Smart Pointers.

Holders and Trules.

Protecting Against Exceptions.


Holders as Members.

Resource Acquisition Is Initialization.

Holder Limitations.

Copying Holders.

Copying Holders Across Function Calls.


Reference Counting.

Where Is the Counter?

Concurrent Counter Access.

Destruction and Deallocation.

The CountingPtr Template.

A Simple Noninvasive Counter.

A Simple Invasive Counter Template.


Implicit Conversions.



21. Tuples.


Recursive Duos.

Number of Fields.

Type of Fields.

Value of Fields.

Tuple Construction.


22. Function Objects and Callbacks.

Direct, Indirect, and Inline Calls.

Pointers and References to Functions.

Pointer-to-Member Functions.

Class Type Functors.

A First Example of Class Type Functors.

Type of Class Type Functors.

Specifying Functors.

Functors as Template Type Arguments.

Functors as Function Call Arguments.

Combining Function Call Parameters and Template Type Parameters.

Functors as Nontype Template Arguments.

Function Pointer Encapsulation.


Analyzing a Functor Type.

Accessing Parameter Types.

Encapsulating Function Pointers.

Function Object Composition.

Simple Composition.

Mixed Type Composition.

Reducing the Number of Parameters.

Value Binders.

Selecting the Binding.

Bound Signature.

Argument Selection.

Convenience Functions.

Functor Operations: A Complete Implementation.



A: The One-Definition Rule.

Translation Units.

Declarations and Definitions.

The One-Definition Rule in Detail.

One-per-Program Constraints.

One-per-Translation Unit Constraints.

Cross-Translation Unit Equivalence Constraints.

B: Overload Resolution.

When Does Overload Resolution Kick In?

Simplified Overload Resolution.

The Implied Argument for Member Functions.

Refining the Perfect Match.

Overloading Details.

Prefer Nontemplates.

Conversion Sequences.

Pointer Conversions.

Functors and Surrogate Functions.

Other Overloading Contexts.

Books and Web Sites.
Index. 0201734842T10072002


The idea of templates in C++ is more than ten years old; they were already documented in 1990 in the so-called "ARM" (see page 653) and had been described before that in more specialized publications. However, well over a decade later we found no book on the market that concentrates on the fundamental concepts and advanced techniques of this fascinating, complex, and powerful C++ feature. We wanted to address that issue and decided to write the book about templates (with perhaps a slight lack of humility).

However, we approached the task with different backgrounds and with different intention. David, as an experienced compiler implementer and member of the C++ Standard Committee Core Language Working Group was interested in an exact and detailed description of all the power (and problems) of templates based on the actual C++ Standard. Nico, as an "ordinary" application programmer and member of the C++ Standard Committee Library Working Group was interested to understand all the techniques of templates in a way that he could use and benefit from them. But we both wanted to share this knowledge with you, the reader, and the whole community to help to avoid further misunderstanding, confusion, and/or apprehension.

As a consequence, you will see both conceptual introductions with day-to-day examples and detailed descriptions of the exact behavior of templates. Starting from the basic principles of templates and working up to the "art of template programming" you will discover (or rediscover) techniques such as static polymorphism, policy classes, metaprogramming, and expression templates. You will also gain a deeper understanding of the C++ standard library, in which almost all code involves templates. We learned a lot. And we hope you will do the same with as much fun as we had writing this book. Enjoy!


This book presents ideas, concepts, solutions, and examples from many sources. In a way it does not seem fair that our names are the only ones on the cover. We'd like to thank all the people and companies who helped and supported us during the past few years. First, we'd like to thank all the reviewers and everyone else who gave us their opinion on early manuscripts. These people endow the book with a quality it would never have had without their input. The reviewers for this book were Kyle Blaney, Thomas Gschwind, Dennis Mancl, Patrick McKillen, and Jan Christiaan van Winkel. Special thanks to Dietmar Kuhl who meticulously reviewed and edited the whole book. His feedback was an incredible contribution to the quality of this book. We'd also like to thank all the people and companies who gave us the opportunity to test our examples on different platforms with different compilers. Many thanks to the Edison Design Groupfor their great compiler and their support. It was a big help during the standardization process and the writing of this book. Many thanks also go to all the developers of the free GNU and egcs compilers (Jason Merrill was especially responsive), and to Microsoft for an evaluation version of Visual C++ (Jonathan Caves, Herb Sutter and Jason Shirk were our contacts there).

Much of the existing "C++ Wisdom" was collectively created by the online C++ community. Most of that comes from the moderated Usenet groups comp.lang.c++.moderated and comp.std.c++. We are therefore especially indebted to the active moderators of those groups, who keep the discussions useful and constructive. We also much appreciate all those who over the years have taken the time to describe and explain their ideas for us all to share.The Addison Wesley team did another great job. We are most indebted to Debbie Lafferty (our editor) for her gentle prodding, good advice, and relentless hard work in support of this book. We're grateful also to Marina Lang who first sponsored this book within Addison Wesley. Susan Winer contributed an early round of editing that helped shape our later work.

Nico's Acknowledgments

My first personal thanks goes with a lot kisses to my family: Ulli, Lucas, Anica, and Frederic did support this book with a lot patience, consideration, and spur. In addition, I want to thank David. His expertise turned out to be incredible. But, his patience was even better (sometimes I ask really silly questions). It is a lot of fun to work with him.

David's Acknowledgments

My wife Karina has been instrumental in this book coming to a conclusion and I am immensely grateful for the role that she plays in my life. Writing "in your spare time" quickly becomes erratic when many other activities vie for your schedule. Karina helped me to manage that schedule, taught me to say "No" in order to make the time needed to make regular progress in the writing process,and above all was amazingly supportive of this project. I thank God every day for her friendship and love.

I'm also tremendously grateful to have been able to work with Nico. Besides his directly visible contributions to the text, his experience and discipline moved us from my pitiful doodling to a well organized production.John "Mr. Template" Spicer and Steve "Mr. Overload" Adamczyk are wonderful friends and colleagues, but in my opinion they are (together) also the ultimate authority regarding the core C++ language. They clarified many of the trickier issues described in this book, and should you find an error in the description of a C++ language element, it is almost certainly attributable to my failing toconsult with them.

Finally, I want to express my appreciation to those who were supportive of this project without necessarily contributing to it directly (the power of cheer cannot be understated). First are my parents: Their love for me and their encouragements make all the difference. And then, there are the numerous friends constantly asking "How is the book going?"; they too were a source of encouragement: Michael Beckmann, Brett and Julie Beene, Jarran Carr, Simon Chang, Ho and Sarah Cho, Christophe De Dinechin, Peter and Ewa Deelman, Neil and Tammy Eberle, Sassan Hazeghi, Vikram Kumar, Jim and Lindsay Long, Franklin Luk, Richard and Marianna Morgan, Ragu Raghavendra, Jim and Phuong Sharp, Gregg Vaughn, and John Wiegley.



Click below to download the Index file related to this title:


Submit Errata

More Information

Unlimited one-month access with your purchase
Free Safari Membership